Photograph: 'The Alhambra, Spain' / Max Besser Jirkal
Europe

The Alhambra, populism and the dangers of an ignorant population

12/12/2016 Alastair Stewart

‘Western civilisation is more connected than ever, yet the ability of populations to discern fact from fiction and to decide which is an outright lie has declined. In the case of Trump, what is curious, is the presumption that politicians and leaders will lie seems to have reached a satirical impasse. There’s the cliche that politicians or someone in public life will lie but surely they can’t lie that much. There is an implicit presumption and trust that they could never go that far and it has allowed, with the absence of historical knowledge, deception, and hyperbole to become commonplace.’ (Read More)

'Travel the World' / CC
Travel

Steps towards more sustainable tourism

28/06/2016 Cameron Mackay

With the holiday season underway, thousands of Brits will be travelling to a variety of foreign destinations; some heading to cities and resorts and some travelling to much more remote destinations. Wherever we go, our role as tourists has the potential to impact and accentuate serious issues facing the countries we visit. Whilst travel offers a fantastic opportunity to switch off from the intensity of work and studying, are we staying switched on to the full impact of our actions abroad? (Read More)

'Plane Journey' / CC
Travel

Why a returning flight is the least relaxing journey in the world

03/05/2016 Alastair Stewart

These thoughts, of course, all congeal together to make the return flight a tedious slow motion haze of recognisable cliché. No, I don’t want a menu. No, I don’t want anything to eat. No, I don’t want a lottery ticket, duty-free items, charity donation forms or anything else from the tat rags they pedal at 30,000 feet. There’s also a special place in hell for anyone that keeps repeatedly bumping your shoulder as they march past you down the aisle. (Read More)

'Gibraltar' / Dennis Keller
Politics & Society

Gibraltar might be living history, but it needs to change

23/11/2015 Alastair Stewart

That’s not even the weird part. Cross over from Spain and your next obstacle is to walk across North Front Airfield. To divine an understanding as to why someone thought this design was a good idea is to divine the meaning of life at the same time. For all that Gibraltar looks British it’s probably the last hold out against health and safety as 747s are taking off from a runway which intersects Winston Churchill Avenue, the main north-south street, which requires movable barricades to close when aircraft land and depart. The History Channel programme Most Extreme Airports ranked the airport the fifth most extreme airport in the world and it’s no wonder. (Read More)

Politics & Society

We cannot rely on niceties alone to defend UK citizens abroad

08/11/2015 Alastair Stewart

My country: What does it mean to me when I’m abroad?

This question forms a remarkably regular part of your thoughts when you’re sitting a thousand miles from home and 347 miles from the nearest British embassy in Madrid. For some the answer begins and ends with a British passport or the inconvenience of customs or the ridiculously high phone tariffs that signal being abroad. For others, the question never even occurs, but for those of a more pontificating or alarmist disposition, the question becomes whether or not the UK can protect its citizens if they get into real trouble abroad.
(Read More)

Travel

A Biblical disaster isn’t always bad

04/11/2015 Alastair Stewart

So here we are. There were few cars. There were no people. And it was 2am in the morning at this point. It was genuinely bad. Thank God we kept our heads (we didn’t at all, hyperbole and drama and laughing off trouble has been the silent third partner to our duo for over 13 years). (Read More)

Scotland & Spain / Crossed Flags
Politics & Society

From Spain with Love: Referendum reflections

18/09/2015 Alastair Stewart

One of the things I struggle to rationalise to political friends and frenemies back home is how I’ve become even more interested in Scottish politics despite having left for Spain. I adore politics, but I’m reminded of Gore Vidal saying, ‘he liked politics too much to get involved in it.’
(Read More)

Travel

Cattle class with Ryanair

02/09/2015 Alastair Stewart

Ryanair has all the charm of an old whore who charges too much. I don’t despise flying. It’s the whole system. As soon as you arrive at the airport you’re treated as a commercial puppy; either too stupid to see that the markup is so through the roof as to break a Zimbabwean bank or you’re condescended to in such a way as to make you question your own faculties at 4am. (Read More)

Alastair Stewart / CC
Politics & Society

‘We in Spain’: Thoughts on the Scottish referendum

15/07/2015 Alastair Stewart

I left the UK on the 1st of Spain and I’d registered to have a postal vote. I was streaming the UK news daily. What I didn’t quite anticipate for was – despite the posturing of the Spanish prime minister – that the issue was as lively a news topic as it was at home. For days before everyone knew what Scotland might do and what the issues were. Few people in this southerly resort could name the campaign leaders, but they could certainly talk about the economic and social pros and cons with aplomb. (Read More)

Almerimar / Alastair Stewart
Travel

Homage to El Ejido

10/07/2015 Alastair Stewart

Living abroad for ten months, with a ten-day visit home at Christmas, dulls the senses a bit. It’s July now and after so long away and either by necessity or circumstance home becomes an intangible lucid dream in the back of your head: it’s so familiar that when you invoke it you’re there with every detail. When you return to Her Majesty’s shores the same thing can be said of El Ejido, where I work or Almerimar where I live. Sandy beaches, beautiful vistas and a deep love for my job teaching English: you get the gist. (Read More)